Public Land Recreation Creates Many More Jobs Than Public Lands Ranching

Online Messenger #206

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A recent report published by the Department of Interior demonstrates what conservation advocates have been arguing for years:  Recreational use of public lands creates many more jobs and much more economic value than public lands ranching.

Department of the Interior's Economic Contributions - June 2011 pdf 

Jobs attributable to DOI Public Lands in 11 Western States

State Recreation Grazing (Direct) Grazing (Total)
Arizona 21,364 100 191
California 34,658 34 71
Colorado 13,216 194 336
Idaho 6,659 212 402
Montana 9,451 239 438
Nevada 9,243 200 352
New Mexico 4,189 486 842
Oregon 11,223 216 388
Utah 20,319 360 476
Washington 6,349 21 33
Wyoming 15,012 426 623
TOTAL 151,683 2,488 4,152

Despite the staggering disparity in economic value of these competing land uses, the Bureau of Land Management continues to manage public lands to benefit public lands ranching above and beyond all other uses. 

This mismanagement frequently results in degraded conditions resulting in diminished recreational opportunities, reduction of wildlife, water contamination and the general abuse of the landscape. 

Nobody wants to pitch a tent in cow waste, have their trip cut short by E. Coli or Giardia or visit public lands that smell like a feedlot.

These 2009 photos show a deeply degraded spring area on the 100,000 acre Mountain Springs Allotment in Custer County, Idaho administered by the BLM.  Unfortunately, damaged landscapes like these are common across the public lands of the American West.




Mountain Springs Allotment location. Photos © David Stilwill/WWP 

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Jon Marvel
Executive Director